30 December 2011

Experience the Volkswagon Beast

Sandra from the always brilliant Classic Copenhagen blog spotted this today here in Copenhagen and posted it on Twitpic. An installation commercial for the new Volkswagon Beetle. It translates as:

"Experience the wild animal - or beast, perhaps - on TheBeetle.dk".

As street ads go, I've seen better. And while this doesn't exactly fit into our Car Industry Strikes Back category, the 20-something creatives who thought this up and patted each other on the back afterwards have inadvertantly given us an image of our urban future.

Isn't this exactly what we're working towards? How we should finally - for the first time since the 1920's - stop ignoring the bull in society's china shop? Restricting the bull. Caging it. Taming it. Keeping it from killing, injuring and polluting. This campaign is anti-car without even meaning to be. Hilarious.

I'm happy to experience the beast on their (really quite cool) website. As long as they stay off our streets.

And, for what it's worth, off our cycle tracks... that wide ass flatbed is sticking out over the track.


Paul Martin said...

Yeah, lock 'em up and take 'em away! (and get of the @#$%ing bike path... geez....)

Erik Griswold said...

Is that a Dutch plate on the trailer? Could be! Call the Police and SKAT just to be sure.

Vocus Dwabe said...

"Volkswagen", Mikael: German for "People's Car".

Did you know that the original Volkswagen Beetle was designed (most of it) by the Czechoslovak Skoda company circa 1930? They were interested in the idea of a cheap, mass-produced car with a rear-mounted air-cooled engine, and got as far as building a prototype before the Great Depression put an end to the project. Ferdinand Porsche bought the drawings from them in the late 1930s.

The VW Beetle project was part of the reason for the Nazi Party's early interest in cycle lanes. Hitler personally detested bicycles - "the little man's means of transport" - and wanted to get them off of Germany's roads so that everyone could drive their Volkswagen unimpeded by cyclists.

This knowledge has always made me just a little bit wary about schemes for networks of cycle lanes: you wonder what their motives really are.

Anonymous said...

Vocus: The modern age bike tracks (and other bike infrastructure) is mostly the result of huge cyclist demonstrations and protests against the horrible number of cyclists being killed in traffic during the 60's and early 70's. The car lobby didn't want this infrastructure as it felt that this would steal away space from the cars. They actually still feel that way about ti.

kfg said...

Anon - That may be true where you are from, but you are not where everyone is from.

Vocus Dwabe said...

Quite so, Anonymous: if what they were offering was a Dutch- or Danish-standard network of cycleways then I'd snatch their hand off. But here in the UK you can't help suspecting that what the motoring lobby have in mind is a half-arsed, underfunded, ill-maintained non-system of bike lanes designed simply to get cyclists off the roads. Many cyclists here report being abused by motorists for not using roadside cycle tracks which keep switching from one side of the road to the other, and are littered with street furniture, broken glass and parked vehicles. You suspect it might be rather like 19th century settlers parking "the natives" on a patch of semi-desert called a reservation, then shooting them if they venture outside it.

David Arditti said...

Vocus, in all my years involved with cycling in the UK, I have never known any element of the "motoring lobby" to campaign for cycle tracks in the UK. If what this lobby wants, as you claim, is low-quality, unusable cycle lanes, then cyclists would not use them, and they would fail in this supposed objective of "getting cyclists off the road" wouldn't they? So I don't think what you are saying makes sense.

Hitler is utterly irrelevant to modern European cycling culture. Dutch and Danish cyclists do not use the cycle tracks because they are forced to, they use them because they are much better for cycling on than the road.

Erik Griswold said...


The only reason the former KDF factory was kept alive and restarted is because the British occupation forces wanted something close to the Soviet sector of Germany that would demonstrate the economic stability and future of the Western sectors which would dissuade votes for communist governments. Wolfsburg's location was the key.

And P.S., VW now owns Shkoda

Vocus Dwabe said...

They don't campaign for cycle tracks, David: building them would cost public money, after all - and as everyone knows, cyclists don't pay "Road Tax". But "get 'em off the roads" is still a mantra that comes up regularly on cycling blogs.

Of course Dutch cyclists use that country's superb network of cycle tracks: you'd be insane not to. But it is worth pointing out that in the Netherlands it's actually illegal to ride a bicycle on a public highway when there's a cycle track available - and that the police will prosecute anyone they catch doing it. Here in Britain we'd have the compulsion, but not the infrastructure.

Sorry to have led people off on this tangent, but motor cars just aren't very interesting.

Frits B said...

@Erik Griswold: That number plate isn't Dutch.
@Vocus Dwabe: You're correct inasmuch that Dutch cycle paths must be used by cyclists when available and when signposted as such - but they would be mad not to do so. Sanctions only out of town, however, because then a cyclist would be endangering the other traffic - same rule as for pedestrians who also aren't really welcome on A-roads and motorways. Suum cuique, as the expression goes.

wacks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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